Gillian Christine Willans

April 24, 1933 – July 14, 2021
The world has lost a whirlwind of a character, a force of nature. Christine lived a full and adventurous life. An only child born to Christopher and Bertha Buckley in Stoke-on-Trent England during the depression, she lived through WWll as a young child before going to Birmingham University.
There she graduated with an Arts Degree, and met and married Derek Willans. Together they sailed to Canada in 1956, searching for a new life and opportunity. Derek was hired as an engineer at Cominco in Trail BC and they bought their first home in nearby Rossland.
There they had three children, Justin, Sara and Dede. Christine also learned to drive a car, to ski and she made many dear friends amongst the housewives in Rossland. This was the start of a theme that characterised all of Christine’s life, making strong vibrant friendships in new places.
In 1970, Christine and Derek divorced and she set off for Vancouver where she completed her teaching degree. The following year, she accepted a teaching position in Nelson and moved herself and children, along with a cat and puppy to the first house she bought on her own.
After teaching for several years and becoming an active leader in the Nelson District Teachers Union, she became the first female principal in the Nelson District. In 1983 she moved to Surrey to be a principal in several schools there before retiring in 1995 (?).
Her retirement allowed her to embrace the job she loved the most in life, being a grandmother to her 9 grandchildren. This took her to Fort Langley, Nelson, Vancouver Island and back to the Kootenays.
In all of these places and roles, Christine made new friendships. Two hours at a horse show or hockey game and she had 5 new friends. Opinionated and well-read, she was always up for a contentious conversation, or she could also talk recipes and dogs if that’s what worked. Christine loved books, and she passed on this passion to many of her grandchildren. Her time in the British school system left her with a vast collection of poems and passages that she could recite by heart. This was something she did often to the marvel of her family.
Christine loved her animals, and she always had a dog or cat or both. She could often be found with a good book and cup of tea, cat and dog snuggled on the quilt beside her. A gifted teacher, she opened the door of reading for many a young child. As a principal, she championed her teachers encouraging them to be innovative and creative.
Christine loved an outing, never worried about a clean house, enjoyed gossip, cooking, shopping and sitting around a table talking with friends. To her grandchildren she was the greatest of champions. She believed in them like no other and was so proud of their many accomplishments.
The last 7 years of Christine’s life were difficult ones in many ways as dementia took hold and she slowly lost so much of what made her happy and gave her identity. That said, even in dementia, her ability to make friendships and social connection remained and she was a favourite amongst many of the staff in the care homes she resided. As we sat by her bedside in those final days, many came to say goodbye and to tell us how much she meant to them.
With her usual knack for poetic prose and metaphor, Christine always said that she’d been born “under a kind star”. This has to be true as in her final days she got to meet her two great grandchildren, with one singing her favourite songs to her on the final afternoon that she lived on this earth. I don’t think Mom could have picked a better ending.
Christine is survived by her three children, and 9 grandchildren Rose, Justine, Ruby-Rae, Carsen, Abbie, Pearl, Boone, Chay and Blaze.
Thanks to all the staff at Mountain View Seniors Home who cared for Mom during her time there, and in the final days. Notable thanks to Kion, the health care aide who made a special connection with Mom. We could all see that Kion’s strong character was a good match for Mom and it is no wonder they found each other.
Details for a celebration of life to be communicated at a later date.Obituary


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